More for the members

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

In an effort to do more for its members, the Washburn Area Chamber of Commerce has rolled out a new project, which showcases members through advertisements displayed on televisions in Washburn businesses.

"There is much more to Washburn than people see as they pass through town on Highway 37," said Steve Hodgin, Washburn Chamber of Commerce president. "Since downtown Washburn is off the beaten track, businesses here do not get the advertising exposure they need and this was an idea I came up with to promote the businesses, which do not have front line exposure."

Hodgin suggested the advertising project at a chamber meeting around six months ago. Later, he received the opportunity to serve as chamber president and with the support of other members moved forward with the project.

"The ads change as new people are added and as need dictates," said Hodgin. "The whole thing has been slow in learning how to do on a trial and error basis.

"We have elected to do still ads without sound so far since this might pose a distraction in the host business locations," continued Hodgin. "This could change if local advertisers wanted to supplement the cost of more sophisticated ads."

Televisions have already been installed at Trojans Quick Mart and Country Package, which have the highest number of passersby on a daily basis, said Hodgin. The chamber invested $300 to begin the project. Funds were used to purchase a 32-inch television and software for the presentation.

"New member sales are supporting much of the cost of additional units," said Hodgin. "We have purchased two more to be placed at Eagans Supply and Hillbilly Henry's Merchantile and Flea Market. We hope to have funds to add two more, one of which would go to the Purple Cow Flea Market."

Hodgin hopes the project allows Washburn Chamber members to provide information to potential customers they might not otherwise have the opportunity to reach.

"The Washburn Area Chamber of Commerce provides many services to our community, including the Christmas parade," said Hodgin. "We would like to do much more and to begin offering incentive awards to promote community improvements and decoration.

"This costs money, and as our membership began to dwindle we were less able to provide these things," continued Hodgin. "This program within a matter of weeks sparked immediate interest and stimulated new memberships."

Hodgin said all Washburn Chamber members have been very supportive of the project.

"I would like to see this program introduced to various chamber groups along the Highway 37 corridor so that as chambers we can swap ad space for out of area members who wish to advertise in ours and vise versa. I am also willing to help in any way I can to facilitate this goal.

"When our membership began to dwindle, I did an informal survey on behalf of the chamber," continued Hodgin. "In this time of recession and hard times the major question I got from former or prospective members was, 'What does the chamber really do for me?' I found it to be a highly valid question and this program is our answer."

For more information on the Washburn Chamber of Commerce, email Hodgin at stevehodgin@yahoo.com.

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